The world’s first same-sex marriages were introduced in the Netherlands five years ago when a record number 2,214 tied the knot representing some 3 % of the total Dutch weddings that year. Now the level has fallen due to what researchers label as “stabilisation.”

Demographics Professor Jan Latten at the Statistics Netherlands (CBS) said: “There was an element of hype in 2001. Lots of people who had already been together for 30 or 40 years got married. The numbers peaked in 2002 when 1,838 same-sex couples tied the knot.

“After that it decreased. Everyone asked how this was possible because the opening up of marriage seemed to be so popular. It appears this peak was the ‘start-up’ effect. The figures in 2004 and 2005 were roughly equal.”

In the Netherlands it appears that children are still often the reason for getting married.

Interestingly there are no differences in the Dutch divorce rates between straight and gay couples however, lesbians tend to separate and divorce earlier on in relationships than gay men.

Professor Latten predicts that same-sex marriages have now stabilised with an estimated 1,200 ceremonies in 2006 being a similar figure to last year.

Approximately four thousand gay couples have tied the knot in Britain since the introduction of the Civil Partnership Act in December of last year.